Selah heard the whispers of voices before she opened her eyes. She blinked them open with a soft moan. She was only greeted with the sight of a dark ceiling. However, a glance to her left revealed a large candle lit on the table next to her. The young Assassin blinked in disorientation, feeling strangely disconnected from her body. Then faint murmuring reached her ears again. The teenaged girl glanced at the source, noticing two figures. The broad, elegant figure she registered as Haytham Kenway. The man standing before him Selah recognized was the one who pointed the musket at her. What was his name again?
“…which I want you to care of, Charles,” Haytham’s deep, but musical British accent rumbled.
That was it. Charles Lee. While the Grandmaster’s back was to her, Lee was facing her, allowing to him to notice her awakened state. He cocked an eyebrow and nodded towards her. Immediately Haytham Kenway turned his upper body to glance at her over his shoulder.
“Ah, our guest is awake,” he almost cheered. “I was afraid you wouldn’t be waking up.”
Selah ignored him as she tried to register where she was. She felt a cocoon of warm plush around her with her body completely unmoving. A bed?
“Where am I?” she slurred.
Now Haytham turned to face her. “You’re safe now. No one here is going to hurt you.”
The Grandmaster took a step towards her, but not in a threatening manner. “Yes, we are.”
At his blunt statement and her Assassin’s instincts kicking in, Selah attempted to unravel herself from her prison. She propped her elbows to push herself up, but only when she lifted her upper body, a wave of pain coursed through her body. She gave a gasping hiss and fell back. A strong hand gently pressed her down.
“Don’t exert yourself…” Haytham’s voice murmured. Selah’s eyes fluttered. His silky voice was already lulling her back to sleep…
No. She was just tired. Drugged, probably. She panted slightly from the effort of her movement. The strange condition was enough for her instincts to stir her into panic. What was going on?
“Where are the others?” she demanded through a pant. She was actually just thinking it aloud. Elder Assassins were always nearby, waiting to assist their younger sister. All she had to do was to give the cry of the eagle…
Haytham just stared at her, making her incoherent-self repeat her statement. “Where are the other Assassins?”
It was then the Grandmaster removed his hand and clasped it behind his back. His face emotionless, he glanced at Lee and tilted his head towards the door. Understanding the order, the Templar took a step back, but not without giving Selah one more curious glance before leaving. Haytham stared off in the distance as the door clicked closed.
Suddenly Selah’s stomach started to twist into knots, adding to her misery. She was too weak to recognize dread seeping into her veins. It was hard to read Haytham’s expression, but there was a storm behind his stony eyes. He stepped forward, opening his mouth. The look in his eyes was equal to a sea captain sending his ship into a typhoon.
“The Assassin Brotherhood is destroyed,” he stated. “Everyone you worked with is dead.”
Selah’s heart crushed under her collapsing organs. The wind in her lungs was ripped from her lungs, like she had forgotten to breathe. The warmth around her suddenly felt frigid and she shivered. Her foggy mind snapped into alertness as it analyzed what it had been told. The Assassins. Dead. Everyone she loved as a brother and a comrade. Her entire world. Gone. It couldn’t be true.
Then she remembered James. His death. Then came all the screams of death she heard that night and all the fires that roared. She had watched its destruction…
But her body still refused. This couldn’t be reality. Her shoulders started heaving in pants, competing with her trembling body.
“No…” Her voice came as a low whine, filled with pain and refusal. The flashes of Templars appeared across her vision. How they cut down her loved ones one by one. And they laughed. She remembered Lee pointing the gun at her, summoning a sharp pain to her arm. He had shot her. She remembered how the Grandmaster simply watched, like he was above such primitive methods. When he had been the cause of it.
“You… you bastards…”
Haytham was finally noticing her stressful state. “Calm down…” He placed a hand on her shoulder. Big mistake.
With a screech, Selah shot up from the bed and clawed at the Grandmaster’s chest. The Templar reeled back from the action, but remained at his post. The Assassin screamed at the top of her lungs in a high-pitch, shrieking streams of vile words to unintelligible babble. Her claws swiped at Haytham’s neck a couple of times, drawing blood. He desperately tried to gain a hold on her, finally getting a grip on her arms. The traumatized teenager continued to scream and flail.
Reacting quickly, Haytham pinned her hands above her head and scrambled onto the bed on top of her. He pressed his weight on her body so all she could do was squirm. He half-expected her to screech louder, only for her shrieks to suddenly be replaced by loud wails. Selah sobbed, tears rolling down her cheeks. Her desperate squirming faded into uncontrollable quivering.
“I hate you... I hate you… I hate you…” she kept repeating between gasps. “I wish all of you to hell!”
Haytham only watched with a stony face, his face only inches from hers. He knew there was nothing he could to quell her suffering, and that the only good thing was for her to get it over with. All he could do was prevent her from somehow hurting herself. Still, it pained him that he had been cause of her violent reaction. He couldn’t help but remember his own father’s death, and how his world was shattered that night just like hers.
All of Selah’s teachings of control left her as she lost her emotions, screaming and wailing at the top of her lungs, the images of her deceased brothers with their violent deaths appearing in her mind over and over. She didn’t know how long she cried. Maybe only a few minutes. Possibly over an hour.
Her trembling turned into violent shudders as her sobs died into choking hiccups. Her throat was parched and raw with her face red and wet. Her panting slowed to quiet gasps, her upper body finally stilling. A few more minutes and she only gave small whimpers between tiny breaths.
It was then Haytham finally slowly released her wrists and climbed off the bed back onto the floor. Selah made no movement. Whatever energy she had recovered was gone. If anything, she was weaker than she once was.
“I have no intention of killing you.” She barely registered Haytham’s soft voice. “You are safe now and you will recover here.” Selah closed her eyes, unable to listen or argue. Noticing she was slipping into unconsciousness, Haytham dipped his head in helplessness and disappointment. There was literally nothing he could do. “I’ll send a doctor to tend to your wounds.”
With that, the Grandmaster slipped out of the room.
Selah lost track of time. No matter what, the world around her was dark, whether it was in reality even with its lanterns or in her dreams. How long had it been? Hours? Days? Weeks? She had no way of knowing.
She couldn’t tell if Haytham Kenway visited her again; if he did she didn’t notice his strong presence. Instead other men came. Occasionally the silhouette of a scrawny man of a doctor would appear to fuss over her. He would stay the longest, but would immediately leave once his work was done and stay away longer than his visit. Other Templars came, too. Some would duck their head in to check if she was still alive or had escaped. Others came in with trays of food. The server would either be cruel or bored or caring, shaking her awake and pleading with her to eat. Selah refused.
Never once did the Assassin move from her position. Even when one of her servers tried to force her into a sitting position, she simply pushed away from his hold and fell back onto the bed. Once again she was detached from her body. Only this time she was separated from her senses too, her mind numb in a fog of nonexistent thoughts.
The only thing she did feel was her heart. Occasionally a sharp pain from her chest would rip her from her dreams, severe enough she would cry out in the darkness. Sometimes a figure would come, only to be bewildered with what was wrong. Most of the time though it was a dull ache, accompanying her when she was awake and hiding in her sleep. Only a few times was it numb, feeling like a hole in her chest or a stone weighing her down.
But she didn’t care. All she wanted—when she could think—was the world to disappear. To lock it away and dispose of the key, never to be seen again. She wanted to disappear.
Selah drifted between consciousness and sleep, eyes closed and blocking out her surroundings. That failed though when a clicking sounded next to her, followed by a light that washed over the room when a lantern was lit. Suddenly a warm hand covered Selah’s.
“Dear,” a voice whispered. His voice. Suddenly Selah registered the presence of authority of the Grandmaster, but it was dulled as she too blocked him out. “You need to wake up.” The girl ignored him and didn’t stir. The hand traveled to her shoulder with a gentle shake. “Wake up, dearest. You need to eat.”
Selah buried her face into the pillow and curled her body. “I’m not hungry,” she slurred.
“Drink, then,” Haytham suggested softly.
“Just some water. That can’t hurt, can it?”
Selah could feel his stubbornness in his hand. A voice in her mind protested greatly, wishing him away. But what remained of the apprentice’s logic dictated that he wouldn’t leave until his wish was fulfilled. The girl muttered and shifted. The sooner she cooperated, the sooner she could disappear. She turned over and shakily balanced on her elbows.
“That’s a good girl,” Haytham murmured.
He snaked an arm around her shoulders and lifted her sitting position so she wouldn’t choke. The Templar immediately noticed her eyes and dark hair were dull. The light from the lantern created shadows on her hollow cheeks. He ignored it though as he propped the pillows behind her. Right now the man had to get her to cooperate. He could blame the doctor for letting her get this unhealthy later.
Selah’s mind and body screamed with confusion and soreness at the change of environment. Still, she tried closing her eyes and to disappear again. A pressure appeared on the side of her neck and chin, something brushing softly against her lips. Suddenly a cold sensation slipped through them and filled her mouth, quickly traveling down her throat. Water.
At first, her mind protested again, but then instincts kicked in. Fingers intertwined with Haytham’s, she chugged down the drink, her mouth and throat suddenly feeling dry and cracked. Even as she gleefully inhaled the last few drops, her insides still felt raw. Haytham pulled the cup away and Selah suddenly felt a soft thumb stroke her cheek. She gave a mild flinch when she realized it was his hand on her neck.
“That wasn’t so hard now, was it?” his British accent hummed. For some reason the girl subconsciously shook her head. The man gave a slight smile. “Now can you try a bite to eat?”
Once again Selah wanted to refuse, but suddenly a new pain replaced the one in her heart. This time from her stomach. She winced as hunger took its hold, making her reluctantly nod. Haytham smiled again and picked up a piece of bread from the tray he brought. However, the Assassin still owned some pride, refusing the idea to be fed like a child. Selah weakly snatched the bread from the man and finished it in two bites, barely chewing before swallowing. Her hunger only grew.
Her hand independently reached out for the bowl of soup. Haytham pushed it towards her, allowing her to gain a hold and bring it to her chin. It was gone in less than a minute. She wiped her lips as she handed the bowl back to Haytham.
Hey eyes were already drooping and the wish to sleep returned. Although the pain in her stomach was still existent, it had lessened enough for her to bear it. Haytham noticed her nodding off, so he reached over and removed the pillow behind her. He helped her to lie back down, gently pulling the bed sheets over her.
“Sleep well, my dear,” he whispered.
Selah fell asleep the second she closed her eyes.
Haytham gave a weary sigh, even though he was slightly pleased with himself. He finally got the Assassin to eat. Maybe won some trust, too. Not much, of course, but some. A good step in her recovery.
Several hours after his discussion with Achilles, he went straight to where his prisoner was being held, wanting to see how the relocation went. He was actually surprised that Church tended to her quite well. Not a fabulous job, but better than most of his patients. Still, he deemed to hire a second doctor, who checked on the girl regularly.
After his own “discussion” with the Assassin, he became distracted with Templar priorities. Even though the Assassins were defeated, did not mean the Grandmaster was less preoccupied. In fact he was more. There was the matter of scheduling the scouts that would monitor Achilles, the payment to the mercenaries they had hired, and the storage of the supplies they had stolen. Not to mention that the destruction of their base of operations did not mean all the Assassins were done away with. Now Haytham had to put together expeditions to find any hiding in the cities or the frontier, as well as place new Templar cells to make sure his orders were carried out. And then there was…
Just thinking about all his responsibilities made the man want to run a hand through his hair and he swore he felt several strands turn gray. When he finally turned his attention back to his guest days later, he had discovered she had practically been in a coma and her caretakers did little for her. So almost as always, the Grandmaster had to do things himself.
The Templar was so distracted with his thoughts he barely recognized a figure in the room he entered.
“How’d it go?”
Haytham glanced over at Charles Lee, who was settled comfortably in a chair by a table.
“Got something in her, finally,” the senior Templar reported. “It won’t be long before she’s back to her full strength.”
“Do you think it’s best that way?”
Haytham cocked an eyebrow at him. “I beg your pardon?”
Charles hesitated for a moment, looking conflicted. Like he was determined on what he thought of but didn’t know if he should say it out loud. Before Haytham could think about adjusting his flaw, the man spit it out. “She’s an Assassin, sir. A young inexperienced one who’s weak, but still. She’ll kill you when she gets the chance.”
“Many Assassins have tried to kill me, Charles.”
The Templar only narrowed his eyes at the rebuke, his determination quickly growing. “What? You’ll think you can win her over just like that?”
“No, but I hope to slowly win her trust.”
“Before or after she plunges her blade in you?”
The man shut his mouth at the Grandmaster’s warning, but his eyes still flickered with skepticism. Haytham gave him a hard stare too, trying not to get frustrated. First Benjamin and now Charles? Was everyone in his Order going to question him? But he had a point, though. She was an Assassin. It was obvious the girl was young, late-teens at most, but she was trained to kill. And with brainwashing Assassin ideologies still in her head, she would not hesitate to use her talents.
And besides, Charles was a man of reason, his logic matching his own. It was one of the reasons the Grandmaster kept him around so much as his right-hand man; Charles acted like his conscious.
“Look, sir,” Lee sighed, “I am only trying to be reasonable. For you to die after all we’ve accomplished would be a waste.”
Haytham didn’t know if that was a compliment or not, but he ignored it as he defended his own argument. “And it would be a waste of potential if I simply dispose of her. She’s still a young mind; she could prove useful to us.”
Charles snorted. “It could be argued all those Assassins on that night had potential. Doesn’t make them any less that they are.”
“True,” Haytham agreed, “but not like her.”
“What do you see in her?”
Haytham looked away. “I don’t know…”
He literally never came across the apprentice ever in his life, and their “meetings” could barely pass at that. However, something about her must’ve impressed him. Was it when she tried to attack him? Even though it was a suicidal charge, Haytham couldn’t help but applaud her courage. And when their gazes had locked, even though there was fear and hatred in her eyes, he also saw her strength and determination in them. Already he found several qualities he adored in a man.
And besides, like he had said, she was still young. Yet to learn the ways of the world. No doubt she saw little from her little village, and what she was told would’ve been flawed. He wasn’t cruel enough to end someone who still had so much more to learn. Just like he couldn’t kill Achilles, who was already broken and lame.
So, the Assassin would live.
“We give her a chance, Charles,” Haytham decided. “She’ll come around at some point.”
“As you wish, Master Kenway,” Charles sighed. He knew there was no point now. Once the Grandmaster made up his mind, there was no changing it.
However when Haytham stepped out of the room, he added nurturing a killer to his list of duties.